'Documentaries act as catalysts to democracy' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Documentaries act as catalysts to democracy’

Documentaries are an important part of the democratic process, speakers at a seminar on the role of “Documentary as a tool of strengthening of Democracy” concurred on Wednesday.

The event was organised by the Women’s Media Centre (WMC) Pakistan, in collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy (Washington DC – USA). It featured noted media-folk, prominent among them being the former Information Minister Javed Jabbar, who spoke about the role of documentaries in society.

He defined documentaries as programmes that are either based on facts or on the search for facts. He said that truth was elusive and was tantamount to peeling onions. He added that journalists must be careful in making documentaries — while being subjective and selective and slightly partial cannot be helped, but courage must be shown to be fair-minded and balanced. He praised local documentary filmmakers who had made waves internationally but had been denied screen time in Pakistan.

Muhammad Son Rai, a producer of documentaries, said that documentaries were about the people and the people should be allowed to tell their stories themselves. This allows one to empathise rather than sympathise. He added that people should not be afraid of making documentaries on topics covered earlier by other documentary makers. One can build on the used topics and do a follow-up of it or find other angles to the stories.

Nusrat Ameen, Executive Producer at Geo English, said that our society was plagued with recurring problems such as the political circularity and the social restarts. He explained that documentaries were an expansion of a news item or an idea. They required proper research, identifying the right approach, the right sources, the right resources, the required skills and then practically putting them together to present a finished peace which has impact.

Moin Qureishi of Creative Headquarters (CHQ), who has made documentaries for Channel 4 (UK), said that the purpose of documentaries was to present a question and then show its answer, with the real challenge being in creating maximum impact. He outlined the three categories of documentaries as entertainment, social causes, and business.

He said that documentaries should be kept simple and straight and with enough reason to be believed. The content should address the intensity of the need for the documentary, the social benefit and the entertainment value. He added that the existing trend of documentaries in Pakistan was of Docu-dramas and short films.

Mohammad Waseem, Director, Interactive Resource, said that documentaries were monologues while for change dialogue was necessary.

Earlier, opening the seminar, the Executive Director of WMC, Fauzia Shaheen, said that the impact of electronic media was fast and wide with the lawyers movement and May 12 (2007) the prime examples.

She said that the purpose of a good documentary was to mobilise the public for action and for this documentaries on issues like Karo Kari and Human Rights abuses and other social issues needed to be made.
Source: The News